January 8, 2008
Minimalist Autumn Moods in Sound
In the notes that accompany one of his early releases, Asher says “i think one of the goals i have in my work is to distill sound to their essence so that you have few sounds but they carry a lot of meaning” [ "three untitled pieces", Laboratorie Moderne ]. As careful, concerted listening will reveal, he remains steadfast to this purpose.
With virtual releases on Conv, Homophoni, Laboratorie Moderne, and 12k/Term along with physical albums on Conv, Leerraum, and Mystery Sea, two excellent live sets on Rare Frequency [ 04-13-06 and 02-01-07 ], and a forthcoming release on The Land Of, Massachusetts-based sound artist/composer Asher Thal-nir continues to add to his steadily expanding discography and demonstrate his personal take on minimalism in sound compostion - delivering a lot of meaning using a minimal set of source sounds.
"Study for Autumn" is Asher's latest minimalist soundscape (his second virtual release on Conv) that delves further into the recurring themes of time, memory, and place. The music is as sparse as the trees that have lost most of their foliage. There’s the subtle drone of fall winds blowing through the trees rustling what few withered leaves remain, a persistent static hiss that brings to mind chilly, dreary days of gray skies and gentle drizzle, and I feel the melancholy that poets associate with the season but here, true to his purpose of conveying meaning, Asher captures the mood in sound rather than words.
As is true for all of his compositions, "Study for Autumn" is a very textured work made up of subtle, grainy nuances and field recordings. Other sounds (piano, bells, creaks) rise above this constant texture in a cyclical fashion. "Study for Autumn" continues Asher's trend towards incorporating more melodic elements into his compostions with, in this case, fragments of piano melodies serving that purpose.
When you listen to an artist’s work such as Asher's much as I have, repeatedly and in solitude, the textures and sounds become a part of you, finding a permanent place in your memory. So much so in fact that sometimes when I’m alone and it’s still, wisps of phantom sounds are stirred to life, and I find myself unwittingly going about the house looking for the source. I'm sure that in the days to come, I'll being hearing those sparse piano melodies even when they're really not there.
Larry Johnson, EARLabs